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Biking The Kettle Valley Railway In The Okanagan

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan

The Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) is an old, abandoned railway bed that has a new lease on life as a non-motorized biking and hiking trail. It is located in southern British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley. Outside Magazine once named the trail as one of the “top 10 to cycle.”

The trail is broken into subdivisions or sections with a total length of approximately 600 kilometres. In theory you can cycle from Castlegar in eastern British Columbia to Hope which lies about two hours east of Vancouver, but count on the better part of two weeks if you plan to do that.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan

Biking the trestles through Myra Canyon

The Kettle Valley Railway is a fantastic bike trail especially since it’s possible to cycle it in sections depending on how much time you have.

The trail covers a wide variety of terrain. It will take you through remote backcountry, past lakes, forests and over old railway trestles. In the Penticton area you’ll find yourself cycling through vineyards and orchards.

I have cycled sections of the trail from Myra Canyon through to Chute Lake, Penticton, Okanagan Falls and into the Oliver area. It was all fabulous!

This is what I would recommend if you want to bike the Kettle Valley Railway

Plan on a stay of a few days in the Penticton or Naramata area. There are lots of campsites, B&B’s and small inns to choose from.

Some options include the Naramata Inn and Spa, Apple d’Or Guesthouse (a 5 star property), Burrowing Owl Winery and Guesthouse, D’Vine Dreams B&B and the Sandy Beach Lodge and Resort.

Either bring your own bike or rent bikes from either Okanagan Bike Rentals or the Freedom Bike Shop in Penticton.

Grab a map from a tourist information office and head off. It is an easy cycle from Penticton down along the canal, along the west side of Skaha Lake and into Okanagan Falls. (Try an old fashioned milkshake at Lollies in Okanagan Falls).

For more energetic people I highly recommend riding up the road to Chute Lake from Naramata and then hooking up with the Kettle Valley Trail. The road up is steep but quiet and the views are pretty darn good. The reward is the ride down. The grade is a steady 2% for 18 kilometres if you stop in the Naramata area or 28 kilometres if you continue onto Penticton. Views from the Little Tunnel at Mile Marker 122 are fantastic.

A lovely section of the KVT within sight of Lake Okanagan

Did I mention the other reward? There’s lots of wine tasting to be done at wineries found all along the Naramata Road. You can count on being able to pick up fresh picked fruit as well.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan

It’s not hard to tell where the irrigation ends

The Oliver section of the Kettle Valley Railway

The Oliver section can be done as a day on its own, especially so if you’re into wine tasting. There is a nice loop starting at the tourist information center in Oliver that takes you on bike paths which are both paved and unpaved and then along the length of Black Sage Road. Consider a lunch stop at the Burrowing Owl Winery.

Preparation for Biking the Kettle Valley Railway

It’s not all fun and games on the KVR and I believe a word of caution is in order. Once you are past the village of Naramata it will immediately feel remote so do go prepared. Carry water, food, a map, rain gear and a cell phone. Cell coverage is excellent. Also, bring a few bike tools and a repair kit for a flat tire.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan

Spring and fall are excellent times to cycle the Kettle Valley Railway as its not as hot

Lastly use some common sense with regards to the following:

There are rattlesnakes around. Never attempt to pick one up or this might happen.

Be bear aware. We saw a big black bear but it scurried off. Carrying a can of bear spray would be a good idea.

Do not touch poison ivy. To identify it, look for a plant with three shiny leaves. In the fall the leaves turn red and yellow. If you inadvertently make contact with it wash the area immediately with soap and water.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan

What a treat to find water on the trail

Happy trails. Biking the trails that make up the Kettle Valley Railway should put a smile on your face.

Other Okanagan area blogs that might be of interest

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

iking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan



Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Hi,
    I`m Adolf from trails. Trails is a travelcompany in Germany and we are looking to a company, which give us a offer for a 6 day complet bicycletripp from Kellowna on the Kettle Valley Railway. It must include Mountainbikes, transport, german speaking tourguide, wholesome, substantial meal, good accomodation and airport transfer from and to vancouver international. It will be start at 09. or 10 Juli 2012. We need a offer for 6 to 14 Paxes.

    1. Adolph, dont confuse the clockwork sophistication of Deutschland with the backwater KVR country. You’d be luck to shit in a boot and you can forget about wholesome meals and great accomo.

      1. @Harry There are places where the accommodation is good as is the food. But I doubt that’s why most people are doing this trail. The experience is going to be something you’d never find in Germany.

  2. While the KVR bike trail in the Myra Canyon and close to Naramata and Penticton areas is in good shape, there are long stretches of it which is not. There are potholes, rocks, big puddles and loose sand in spots. It can be a very hazardous ride and is not for the faint hearted. This trail is advertised internationally as a great place to come and cycle, and it is scandalous that it is not maintained properly.

    1. @Jo In the ideal world it would be truly lovely if the whole trail was in great shape. Suspect it all comes down to dollars and cents – though an amazing 600+ km trail would bring in a lot of tourists.

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